NFL combine report: QBs and RBs
Ex-Hogs QB Ryan Mallett wowed scouts with his big arm and precise throws
Christian Ponder had no trouble following Cam Newton in Sunday's drills
Wisconsin RB John Clay had a pedestrian 4.85 40 -- despite a recent weight loss
One of the most anticipated days of the combine is complete, as the highly touted quarterbacks took the field, hoping to answer the many questions scouts had about their skills. Then, a swift group of running backs impressed NFL decision-makers with better-than-expected 40 times. Here's a look at the risers and sliders:
Ryan Mallett/QB/Arkansas: Mallett had a tough go of it during Saturday's press conference, but got his revenge on Sunday. The end result was probably the best passing workout of any quarterback at the combine the last 10 years. Mallett showcased his legendary arm strength, powering the ball all over the field with incredible speed. What really stood out was Mallett's pinpoint accuracy Mallett throughout the session. His deep outs were on the mark, Mallett hit receivers in stride and his timing was impeccable -- even though he was essentially throwing to strangers. All things considered, it was a sensational day for Mallett.
Christian Ponder/QB/Florida State: Ponder also threw with dead-on accuracy. His passes were crisp and timed well. Receivers had the ball in their hands and were given the opportunity to catch deep throws without breaking stride. Ponder's short throws had speed; his long throws had flair. It was a prime performance from Ponder, who struggled throughout his entire senior season.
Derrick Locke/RB/Kentucky: Locke disappointed no one with his performance. He ran both two sub-4.4 40s, hitting 4.38 on some watches. He was also fast during the practice session and showed the ability to maintain his speed when asked to change direction or run through the cutback lanes. He's being compared to Dexter McCluster in some circles.
Jordan Todman/RB/Connecticut: Todman timed much faster than most expected and looked very quick all day. His 40 times also ranged in the low-4.4s, with 4.38 seconds his fastest. Todman was explosive during drills, easily changing direction and showing his burst when the ball was in his hands.
Jake Locker/QB/Washington: We railed against Locker's performance a month ago at the Senior Bowl, but now must give credit where credit is due. Locker's accuracy was significantly improved, as were his mechanics, indicating the signal-caller is finally headed in the right direction. Unlike last month, receivers were not leaving their feet to grab Locker's passes and he was able to him them in stride. Though it was not a spectacular performance, Locker may have done enough to salvage a spot in Round 1 with Sunday's results.
Mario Fannin/RB/Auburn: Fannin teased scouts throughout his college career and once again proved why NFL decision-makers are holding out hope for him. The big ball carrier averaged 4.43 then carried that speed into the practice session. He looked incredibly athletic and explosive during drills, displaying quick feet and solid pass catching hands.
Roy Helu/RB/Nebraska: Helu's stock has been rising since his solid campaign of 2010. He was able to keep the momentum going on Sunday, running faster than expected. Helu's 40s ranged in the low-4.4s and the ex-Cornhusker also looked terrific in drills.
Nathan Enderle/QB/Idaho: Enderle was the only quarterback whose arm strength rivaled Mallett's. His passes displayed great speed as Enderle easily spun the ball into targets. For the most part his passes were quite accurate as Enderle hit targets in stride and did not have them reaching vertically or backward to grab errant passes.
Jerrod Johnson/QB/Texas A&M: Johnson, who was hampered by a shoulder injury in 2010, struggled during the entire practice. His passes were woefully inaccurate and receivers were either waiting for the ball to arrive or twisting on the field in an attempt to make the reception.
John Clay/RB/Wisconsin: Clay entered the combine with high hopes after dropping more than 25 pounds since his season ended. He then took the field in Inday and ran a slow 40 of 4.85. Clay will quickly move from running back to fullback on a number of draft boards.
Notes: So how did Cam Newton look? In a word, inconsistent, though some would justifiably claim disappointing. He displayed himself as a rare athlete with a big-league arm, yet it was evident to all his game needs a lot of work. For every one pass that was on the mark,Newton would toss three or four errant balls. Usually Newton was overthrowing his targets, sometimes with passes ending up woefully high of the mark. Newton struggled with his timing and never got into a rhythm. This was obviously apparent as while Newton struggled, Ponder would step to the line immediately after the Heisman winner and skillfully complete all his passes. The difference was stark.
Things did not come easy for Colin Kaepernick. His day was inconsistent as Kaepernick showed a lot of inaccuracy throughout the day. He had his moments, but it was not the performance scouts were hoping for coming off the heels of Kaepernick's great showing at the Senior Bowl.